Global energy prices are soaring, the world’s economies are teetering on the brink of disaster, arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate as climate change continues unchecked, and the thirst for fossil fuels in China and India seems unquenchable. Stop me if you have heard all of this before, but in the words of the great American philosopher, Yogi Berra, its déjà vu all over again. Only this time we know it must be bad if Americans are giving up their SUVs for subcompacts.

One commodity that does not seem to be in short supply is high-level meetings promising solutions to these woes. With the Beijing Olympics just around the corner as I write, and the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan still fresh in our minds, the focus continues to be on the Asia–Pacific region for some meaningful progress on these issues. There was much discussion at the G8, but a disappointing lack of decisive action from the assembled world leaders.

The Asia Pacific Partnership continues to advance clean energy technologies (including distributed power) in this strategically important region. However, there is an even broader effort under way focused on the Asia–Pacific region, the environment and energy efficiency. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an inter-governmental grouping of 21 member economies, which account for around 41% of the world’s population, 55% of global GDP and 49% of world trade. Last year’s APEC Energy Ministerial in Australia was a historic achievement with member nations issuing a joint declaration on climate change, energy security and clean development, outlining future action and initiatives. There was agreement on a broad set of energy and climate goals, including recognition that climate change requires a concerted response to promote energy efficiency and cleaner technologies and that cleaner power generation technologies can improve energy security and reduce carbon emissions.

This year the APEC meeting will take place in Peru, and we hope to see additional steps taken, as the urgency for action and not just talk is clear. In anticipation of the APEC meeting, WADE is hosting its first ever event in Lima, which will feature high level speakers from the Energy Ministry of Peru and the US Department of Energy. WADE has also formed a chapter in Peru, as APEC and Latin America become more important markets for decentralized energy and more important pieces of the global energy solution. However, to quote Yogi again, you have to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going – because you might not get there. Dialogue and consensus are worthy goals – but they must move to concrete action and progress. Decentralized energy is a solution that is ready now and can make an immediate impact on energy efficiency and the environment. We know where we need to go – we need to get there now.

David M Sweet
Executive Director
World Alliance for Decentralized Energy
e-mail: dsweet@localpower.org